This week we won the MAD blog award 2014 for best family fun, we were over the moon to be chosen to obtain the title & received our award at a red carpeted ceremony in London.
The ceremony was adult only & we wanted to show some recognition to the kids for our win so we embarked on our own prestigious award ceremony for them, after all we would not have won a ‘family fun’ category without them!

We had originally planned to throw the table into the back of the car to find an outdoor spot with a beautiful backdrop with a stop off at Toby carvery for a takeaway roast but had to go with plan B due to a poorly toddler who just wanted time on the sofa….so, our gala event took place in the garden complete with a red carpet and blow out dinner which I nipped out to Toby carvery to fetch. (A child’s portion is £4 but enough to feed 4 children!)
The kids scrubbed up and there were lots of winners!
Here’s how we got on…

They looked very posh..

We made a menu..

And laid the table by throwing sheets over the table and chairs.

IMG_8029.JPGI made some award envelopes and award pebbles to be handed out with a golden chocolate coin..


IMG_8034.JPGonce the red carpet was laid the girls practiced walking it..

IMG_8033.JPGI used an old champagne bottle which I filled with squash..


IMG_8031.JPGwe added the finishing touches to the table with some chocolates for pudding.

IMG_8035.JPGand I nipped out to buy our food.

With food dished up we feasted before the announcements started..

IMG_8037.JPGeverybody had bubbles..

IMG_8039.JPGand with a good luck toast the announcements began..

IMG_8040.JPGit was very tense…

The category’s were

along with

The first winner was Elis..

IMG_8042.JPGthen Eden..

IMG_8044.JPGand finally Mila..

IMG_8021.JPGthere were also awards for Noah who received his when he woke up from his afternoon nap 🙂

We couldn’t of won our MAD blog award without the kids, we were all winners….TOGETHER!!



20140525-194101.jpgLiving with a heart condition…

It’s not something we ever imagined would grace us & certainly not something that we could imagine living with so flippantly and accommodatingly… but we do.
Some things can’t be changed, you can choose to wrap your children in cotton wool, pander to every tear that’s shed and succumb to giving in and sitting back for the absurd reasons of ‘what ifs’ & ‘you never knows’ or you can dust them off before they’ve even fell, let them see that ‘they can’ and crack on with life.

Our aim is to crack on..

That’s not to say we’re not responsible or we lack in sympathy, it’s just a recognition that you can let life consume you and stop you in your tracks or you can grab it full on and live each day like it could be your last.

Mila,5, is our reason for living in this way.

Mila came into the world on the 28th of December 2008, nestled between Christmas & the New Year… She was a healthy & beautiful baby born in the middle of the night, by sunrise I’d spent most of her first few hours in the world staring at her and examining every piece of her, her fingers, her toes, kissing her lips on a loop and smoothing the lack of hair she had. She was perfect.

She was a content baby, covered in love by all her brothers and sisters. She slept well, ate well and wasn’t a sicky baby, she smiled at the right stage, held her head up, rolled over & sat up, all her milestones were met and celebrated…she was a completely normal baby and a joy to have.

At three months I noticed her pulse flickering in her neck like something poking rapidly from beneath her skin, it prompted me to feel her chest which in turn I felt her heart pounding very fast. Unsure if it was normal and not remembering it in our 4 other babies I rang the NHS Direct who assured me that babies hearts beat considerably fast in comparison to adults and reassured me it was nothing to worry about… So I didn’t. I’m not a doctor so my knowledge of heartbeats was zero and I took comfort in their reassurance and put it to the back of my mind.

But i noticed it happening again, twice, so I visited the GP whom after checking her over determined that she was normal and maybe I was just a little fretful as a new mother. He was right, she was fine as each time we got to the doctors her heart was beating normally and I was indeed a little fretful.

Still trying to put it to the back of my mind it happened again at nearly 6 months old, I could see her neck flickering so I decided to take her straight to the GP without making an appointment……and that’s where it all started.

I’m not even sure how we got to the hospital that day, I just remember driving her to the GP to get her checked out and the next moment being in the emergency room at the hospital with hook ups and wires and what seemed like the entire hospital watching over us. It was determined there and then in the blink of an eye that things were not right. Milas heart rate was beating at a dangerously high level of 350bpm instead of the normal 120 & she was teetering on the brink of heart failure…at just 6 months old it was likely that if her heart rate wasn’t reduced she would have a heart attack & all we could do was stand by & watch as everyone battled to correct it.
They tried various manoeuvres on her, threw her into iced water & tried several attempts at stopping her heart with Adenosine and restarting it in the hope of obtaining a normal rhythm, nothing worked, at best her heart would stop beating and restart normally for around 3 seconds before shooting back up to a life threatening level… after all avenues were exhausted & every cardiologist within the hospital was summonsed without joy we were transferred to a high dependency heart unit 30 miles away still aware that at any moment her heart could just decide to stop, give up….
Here they continued to battle to stabilise her heart with different drugs being directly fed into her body via a drip, I thought we were watching her die & ironically as life threateningly poorly as she was on the inside she remained with a smile on the outside, whilst being poked & prodded, having bloods taken and being examined, with wires and drips she still smiled, …eventually after around 6 hours of battling and drugs finally absorbing into her body her heart rate returned to an acceptable level but we spent the next week in the high dependency unit as the cardiologist tried different drug concoctions to keep her stable, during this time she remained on monitors and was drip fed drugs as her heart continued to flit in and out of the danger zone.

20140525-194126.jpgIn those few days she was diagnosed with ‘PJRT Supra Ventricular Tachycardia’….something that the doctors explained is often a common thing for babies to have and be unaware of and mostly grow out of it by the time they are a year old. We were also told that due to the aggressiveness & stubbornness of Milas heart rate and it’s difficulty to control her prognosis would be a permanent condition only correctable with surgery but until that time she would be controlled by beta blockers. To be fair it was a little hard to take in, I thought beta blockers were for old people not a 6 month old baby! But with faith in the doctors we went with the flow.
We understood that the physical structure of her heart was normal, which was good, but the electrical wiring (the pulses) would get confused and fire the wrong way causing her heart to go into overdrive. It was controllable & once big enough she could undergo surgery to try and ‘rewire’ her.

A week later having had training on how to check her heart rate and how to do different manoeuvres to try and restart her heart we were sent home. We had instructions to listen to her heart often during the day and should we establish she was beating too fast we were to monitor her and should it beat too fast for over 20 minutes we were to ring an ambulance….so we cracked on with life and in the next year we ordered ambulances like taxis! We were lucky to go a week without an ambulance or a trip to A&E to help her. It took a while to establish the right medicine mix for her and each time she grew a little her heart would kick off to let us know it needed an increase to keep it stable. We learnt to live with it and take it in our stride. She wasn’t disabled, her mind was still intact and she was physically fit, she just had a dodgy ticker and for that we were thankful and still are.

She lives life completely normally & dances whenever she can…

We still live life and crack on, this little lady is a strong and resilient person, she plays, she learns, and she climbs mountains faster and more enthusiastically than I ever could….

Her heart is still broken but it exudes unbelievable amounts of love every single day….
the love that she shows for life even when that life looked like it was slipping away from us has taught us how precious things are and how everything can change in the blink of an eye.


Every night I ask her ‘what do you want to do tomorrow Mila?’
We always live for today and know that tomorrow is not promised, but we still look forward to it because Mila does.

She has taught us to embrace a little bit of magic & make believe in the moment..

Living with a heart condition is what you make of it, we don’t have bags of cotton wool here, we get by on ‘you can’s’, beta blockers & love.


20140329-135143.jpgHow did we get here…

2 years ago I’d never even heard of blogging, my only form of social networking was a personal Facebook page, twitter evaded me (& still does) and anything else with more that a few channels or Apps on would completely drift over my head, I knew how to log into Facebook on my iPhone but was lost if I needed to navigate my way to finding my own phone number, and nothing has really changed or moved on much, I daren’t try changing the radio station in the car as I struggle to return from the white noise back to a decipherable tune. I have a love for photography but do little else than push a singular button and hope for the best…. To be fair I’m pretty crap with technology all around, a cashpoint machine is probably my most adventurous, eligible & successful technological achievement even though not losing my card or remembering the pin are a whole different struggle. I try over & over again to make myself learn this new era, the way forward, but simplicity swamps my head & I often give up before I’ve even started, then my failings in not seeing things through after promising to force myself to learn make my head hurt. I want to learn, more than anything I want to learn but the whole process of being able to do what the rest of the online world seemingly seems to be doing with ease makes me feel defeated. I want to be a confident, able & successful blogger…
So I continue to try, blindly, without knowledge or understanding of what I’m doing, pretty much like clicking the button on my camera & hoping for the best…. This is how I blog, I’m not gonna lie, I haven’t got a blumming clue, I struggle to organise myself or dust up my memory enough to remember what my passwords & user names are, I don’t know the basics, the jargon is like a foreign language, simple things like replying to comments muddle me & I’ve more chance of picking winning lottery numbers than explaining to you what a widget is, the water seems deep & as long as I tread it then I’m hoping that that’s enough…. But I want to learn, I want to swim in an ocean of bloggers, ideally I would like to sail in tranquil waters in a sea of crystal clad blue… I’m just learning, & thankful for being afloat.

My taste for blogging really started on Facebook, my comfort zone & security blanket. Almost two years ago just after our 6th child, baby Noah, arrived in the world, we set off on an adventure to inspire others to make magical childhood memories regardless of amenities, abilities, location or finances by posting what we do as a family, and it’s been a truly beautiful journey so far & continues to be so. I’ve shared stupid amounts of good stuff, bad stuff, highs, lows, up & downs, I’ve laid bare our everyday lives & never been ashamed of the lack of money in our pockets or unfortunate situations life has thrown us, I’ve shared smiles, laughter, milestones & life changing events in sickness and in health, happiness & sadness, I’ve shared our dysfunction as a family… But our real aim has been in sharing the little things that tick over a fleeting childhood & make it enchanting, the magical ability that we firmly believe we have as parents to install memories, I’ve shared the effort and the enthusiasm of our actions as parents & the joys in reaping what we sow, I’ve shared my belief that parenting has no wrong or right way, no mapped out suggested direction,nobody is perfect, we make mistakes, i’ve shared those mistakes….we’ve shared adventure & explorations, blue skies & mountains, waterfalls & the oceans, we’ve shared our love for the outdoors & eating cake on mountain tops, we’ve shared slight of hand, illusion & many discoveries of fairies & natural beauty…I’ve shared with you almost everything that parenting throws at me, Family Days has shared the love that exudes from our hearts..
…..and it appears to have been gratefully accepted and returned to us in the form of inspiration to make more memories, keep dancing through the rain & the confirmation that our page & blog confirms that dysfunctional is indeed an accepted normality, we all journey in the same direction…

Rest assured we still continue to adventure & are just embarking on a truly beautiful, scary & magical exploration, shortly to be revealed & shared….very soon.

My reasoning for this post.

Ultimately it’s a thank you…
I don’t often write much on my blog, trying to gain advice within the bloggers community It was once suggested to keep things short & sweet should I ever want to become a successful blogger, so that’s what I started to do, I steered away from long winded and became… Short. Sweet. Basic. No blabbering on…I reserve that addiction for Family Days on Facebook…
Unlike the essays & rambling I first started out with on my blog, it seemed a strange direction to move from because I enjoy writing, I love to babble, so for today it’s your choice if you’d like to read on & my hope that you’ll continue.
I can’t really tell you what a tough couple of weeks we’ve had in the Family Days household, it’s been a bumpy ride that our followers may be a little familiar with, a 5 year old with a dodgy heart has certainly tested us recently (but not grounded us!), the loss of a dear friend, a health scare & circle of life situations have all come rapping on our door at once…but we’ve smiled, faced reality, never hidden the children from the everydayness of life that will ultimately round them as people & we’ve cracked on appreciating the good & eating cake….but from out of our darkness came an unexpected & incredibly bright light! A pat on the back for the last (almost) 2 years, a high five, for me…a huge achievement…


Dysfunction is what we do best with family fun coming in at a close second 😉

Obviously I would like to win but that’s enough for me, I felt a sense of specialness to learn a few weeks ago that Family Days Tried & Tested had been nominated and to since add to that glorious cake and find out we’ve become finalists….I have to admit it’s made my head dizzy. Which doesn’t take a lot. It’s made all the times I’ve sat at the computer wondering if I could cut it as a blogger & if blogging was a place for me seem an answerable question. I think I’m swimming.

Over 200.000 nominations were received in the Mad Blog awards! That’s insane. 75 blogs reached the finals. That’s ludicrous. 5 blogs became finalists in each category. Just 5. We are one of those 5 & I really can’t explain how ridiculously humbling that is. Does that make me a successful blogger? In my heart, that’s more than enough & I am excruciatingly proud of myself…

Apologies for babbling, but Eeeeeeekkkkk 😀

If you fancy voting for us to win then that would be lovely, you can do so by following the link below, look for ‘Family Days Tried & Tested’ in the ‘Best Family Fun’ category.

Good luck to everyone in the running and if ever there was an excuse to eat cake then now we have one 😀


If you would like to follow more our daily, fun, frugal & magical memory making activities & adventures during a childhood that’s fleeting you can also find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Family-days-Tried-tested/287237957955725?ref=tn_tnmn